National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

If You Haven’t Done Anything Wrong, You Have Nothing to Worry About

From the Baltimore Sun:

Mary and Michael Major’s 18-year-old son, Miles, was roused from slumber and arrested at home early on the morning of Friday, April 27. He and another young man from the neighborhood were charged with first- and second-degree assault stemming from an attack by five boys on a fellow Lansdowne High School student in mid-March.

The victim claimed to have been held by one boy while another cut him several times with a knife. He showed a Baltimore County police officer more than two dozen small wounds, described in the police report as superficial.

The victim described Miles Major as a lookout for those who carried out the assault.

Mary Major’s son had never been charged with a crime.

And she had never experienced the court commissioner system.

“The commissioner set a bail of $325,000 and sent the young men to Towson Detention Center,” Mary Major says. “It happened so fast, I didn’t know what to do. I elected to obtain a bail bonds company and have [Miles] released on Saturday, as I don’t feel it would have been fair or good for him mentally to spend the weekend in the detention center awaiting a bail review.”

So she and her husband made a nonrefundable $10,000 payment — a break in the usual price, the bail bondsman told them — to get their son released until his trial.

But, ladies and gentlemen, there never was a trial.

The charges against Miles Major were dismissed a month after his arrest. Baltimore County police determined that the accusations were false. When confronted by a prosecutor, the victim had recanted his story, according to Scott D. Shellenberger, the county state’s attorney.

Of course, for the Major family, the damage had been done.

“My husband and I have had to drain our savings between paying the bail and paying an attorney $3,000, and this commissioner gets to sit back without repercussions, as well as the police officers . … Where is the justice? What happened to bringing people in for questioning first? I mean, really, how many tax dollars were wasted on this case? Not to mention my son’s loss of wages while being in jail, along with my loss of wages trying to get him released.”

Her complaints go back to the start of the process — to the “victim” who lied, of course, but also to the police who raided her house, and to the court commissioner whose actions cost her $13,000.

Bail is supposed to be about making sure a defendant shows up for trial. Miles Major hardly fit the profile of a flight risk — an 18-year-old boy with no criminal record, employed at a local restaurant, still living at home with his parents.

Can you spare $13,000?

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